The Effect of High-Anxiety Situations on Conspiracy Thinking
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The aim of the present studies was to examine a possible relationship between anxiety and conspiracy thinking about ethnic and national groups. Two hundred university student volunteers participated in 3 studies. Study One (N = 87; mixed male and female sample) found that state-anxiety and trait-anxiety, measured with the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), were positively correlated with conspiracy thinking about Jewish people, Germans and Arabs. Study Two (N = 46; male sample) and Study Three (N = 67; female sample) were designed to check whether a high-anxiety situation (connected with waiting for an examination) would increase conspiracy thinking. Findings from Studies Two and Three showed that the pre-exam (high-anxiety) situation increased conspiracy thinking about Jewish people. This effect was not mediated by state-anxiety. Hence, further research should focus on searching for possible mediators of the relationship between a pre-exam situation and conspiracy thinking. The obtained results are consistent with previous findings showing that conspiracy thinking about Jewish people is sensitive to situational factors and with findings on links between anxiety and processing information about threat-related stimuli.
KeywordsConspiracy Conspiracy theory Conspiracy thinking State-anxiety Trait-anxiety High anxiety situation
University of Warsaw, from BST 1250/11 and from BST 1646/04, funded the research.
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